Category Archives: 2022

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy &
New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park)

Dec. 22, 2021 — In a surprising move, three-term Florida US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced that she won’t run for re-election next year, becoming the third member of the Florida delegation to leave the House at the beginning of 2023 in addition to the state gaining a new seat in national reapportionment. Not included in the total is the special election to fill the late Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D-Delray Beach) South Florida 20th District that will conclude on Jan. 11.

The Murphy move means the Sunshine State will host four open congressional elections next year, three of which lie in the Orlando metro area. In addition to Congresswoman Murphy, Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) in an adjacent district is also leaving the House. She is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Furthermore, the state’s new 28th District will likely be placed in the Orlando metroplex. The lone non-Orlando area open seat is in the Tampa Bay area as Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) is foregoing re-election to again run for governor.

Rep. Murphy was elected in 2016, defeating then-Rep. John Mica (R) in a 51-49 percent result after the Florida state Supreme Court made the 7th District more Democratic during a mid-decade redistricting order. She averaged 56.5 percent of the vote in her two subsequent re-election campaigns and holds a seat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee.

New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York)

Also, New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) announced Monday that he will not seek a ninth full term in the House. The congressman was first elected in a concurrent 2006 special and general election replacing then-Rep. Bob Menendez (D) who had been appointed to the Senate. At the time, the eastern New Jersey district that borders the Hudson River across from New York City was numbered CD-13. It was changed to number 8 in the 2011 redistricting plan.

Prior to his election to Congress, Sires served in the New Jersey General Assembly and was the body’s speaker from 2002-06. During the 1995-2006 period, he was the mayor of West New York, and concurrently served in the legislature for most of that time. Prior to a 2006 law banning the practice, it was commonplace for New Jersey mayors to simultaneously hold both their municipal position and serve in the legislature.

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Rep. Titus (D) Decries Nevada Dem Map

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)

Dec. 21, 2021 — Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) is drawing a great deal of recent media attention largely for the vulgar way in which she described the Democrats’ new Sliver State congressional redistricting map before a meeting of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

She is upset because her once politically rock-solid downtown Las Vegas-anchored district is now in the competitive realm, and she believes the legislators not only did her a disservice, but endangered, from a Democratic partisan context, all of the Clark County districts.

At the labor meeting, Titus described what the state Democrats did by saying, as quoted in the Nevada Current online publication:

“… you read that the Republicans are using gerrymandering to cut out Democratic seats, but they didn’t have to in this state. We did it to ourselves.”

Nevada is one of the 15 Democrat trifecta states — which is where one party controls the governor’s office, the state Senate, and state Assembly — and therefore holds the redistricting pen. The number of places where they can actually gain congressional seats through the re-draw process, however, is only four: Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, which is why it is critical for the Nevada Democrats to hold their three Silver State seats. Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Carson City) northern 2nd District, for geographic and political reasons, must remain safely Republican.

Rep. Titus, however, believes the final map puts all three of the state’s Democratic districts in jeopardy. Predicting what could be a difficult year for the party in Nevada, Rep. Titus apparently thinks Republicans could sweep the state’s four congressional seats in the 2022 election.

She further stated, again as the Nevada Current reported, that,

“Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited. Democrats are kind of ‘meh, I have to pay more gas prices. Hispanics aren’t going to want to turn out if we don’t get something for immigration. I mean, why would they?”

Titus remembers the 2014 election cycle when Democratic turnout was so poor in a down year for her party that Republicans swept the ticket from top to bottom.

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Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

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New Mexico Lines Completed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2021 — Though only a three-congressional district state, New Mexico is playing an important role in the 2021 redistricting cycle. The state is one of only four where Democrats fully control the redistricting process and can make gains.

The map that passed the legislature Monday and which was immediately sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) for her signature appears to clinch the one-seat gain that national Democrats need from the state. On the other hand, it is likely that at least one of their current seats becomes more vulnerable.

Though Democrats have 15 legislative trifectas — that is where they hold the offices of governor, state Senate, and state House of Representatives — they effectively have only four for redistricting. In five of their trifecta states, redistricting has been sent to a citizens or politician (New Jersey) commission. In another six, they are maxed, meaning the Democrats already have all the seats that they can possibly win in each domain.

Ironically, the current Land of Enchantment map needed only minor adjustments to bring the redistricting plan into legal population compliance. The state’s per district resident quota is 705,841 individuals, and the three current districts were only between 3,082 and 11,290 people away from being in full compliance. Districts 2 and 3 needed to shed a combined 11,290 individuals to District 1, and the map would have balanced.

Instead, the Democratic leadership made major changes all centered around transforming freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell’s (R-Alamogordo) 2nd CD into a Democratic advantage. The US Department of Justice just filed suit against the Texas redistricting map under a partisan gerrymander argument, so it is curious to see whether they follow the same course and bring forth a similar partisan gerrymander lawsuit in New Mexico and Illinois, places where Democrats control the redistricting pen.

New Mexico is also interesting in that all three of the state’s delegation members, Reps. Melanie Stansbury, (D-Albuquerque) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-Santa Fe), as well as Herrell, are freshmen. In fact, Stansbury is even behind the other two in seniority since she won her seat in a June 1 special election to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D), who left the House to become US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration.

For the first time, the redesigned New Mexico congressional map splits the state’s dominant city of Albuquerque. Drawing the southern 2nd District into the Albuquerque metropolitan area provides the Democrats the ability to enhance the party’s chances of flipping the seat. Throughout New Mexico’s history, the city has been fully contained within the 1st Congressional District.
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Post Redistricting:
Competitive Seats, Part II

Nevada redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 10, 2021 — Continuing our redistricting report about the 20 multi-congressional district states that have completed the re-drawing process, today, we look at the domains from Montana through West Virginia.


Montana:

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission for the first time had a congressional map to draw. The state rose from at-large status to gaining a new district in reapportionment due to strong population growth. Montana is the first multi-district state to ever fall into at-large status, as it did in the 1990 census, and then regain a second district.

Though more Democratic maps were filed for commission consideration, the main Republican offered map was adopted. One of the Democratic commissioners voted for the plan, which allowed the GOP version to prevail. Still, all of the maps created an east and west seat, with the new western seat, labeled District 1, being the more competitive.

At-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the safely Republican eastern District 2, while former congressman and ex-US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appears to be the early leader in the western district both in the Republican primary and general election. While relatively competitive, the 1st District will clearly nominate a Republican who will be the general election favorite.


Nebraska:

The unicameral legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) enacted a new congressional map that should again deliver a 3R-0D delegation. Rep. Don Bacon’s (R-Papillion/Omaha) marginal 2nd District – Joe Biden carried the district by more than 22,000 votes – is strengthened for the incumbent, but it still remains a competitive congressional domain.


Nevada:

The Democratic legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) enacted a map that is designed to produce a 3D-1R map but, in attempting to maximize the Democratic stake, possibly all three of the party’s intended seats now fall into the potentially competitive realm.

In 2020, Clark County hosted two of the 53 districts nationally where the winning candidate scored less than 52 percent. In 3rd District Rep. Susie Lee’s (D-Las Vegas) case, her victory percentage was less than 49 percent. Fourth District incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) fared only slightly better at 50.7 percent. In order to strengthen these two districts, a large number of Democrats had to be taken from the previously safe seat of 1st District Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas).

The end result is three Democratic seats in the lower 50s. In a Republican year, and considering the GOP is beginning to score better with Hispanics who comprise more than 31 percent of the Clark County population, all three seats could conceivably host competitive challenge campaigns. Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), the lone Republican incumbent in the Nevada delegation, gets a safe northern state seat.


North Carolina:

The courts have been playing ping pong with the North Carolina map this week. A three-judge panel first issued a stay order on the Tar Heel State’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline pertaining to a redistricting lawsuit before the court. A day later, the full 15-member state Appellate Court overturned the panel’s ruling, and restored the original filing deadline. Just this week, the state Supreme Court quickly reinstated the candidate filing stay and ordered the March 8 primary postponed until May 17.

The North Carolina map is the national Republicans’ best to date. If it survives the legal challenge, the GOP could net as many as three seats in the delegation. It appears that five seats will be open, with Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) and David Price (D-Chapel Hill) retiring, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) running for Senate, and with two more seats beign created through reapportionment and the map-drawing process.

Under the enacted map, Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) and Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk) are paired in a new 11th District, which would heavily favor the GOP nominee.


Ohio:

The legislature and Gov. Mike DeWine (R) recently approved a new congressional map that may net the Republicans a one-seat gain, or could conceivably yield the Democrats a similar outcome. Three of the state’s 15 new districts are highly competitive — Ohio lost one seat in reapportionment — with two currently in Democratic hands and one under GOP control.

Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), and the open 13th District seat of Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren), now located on the west side of Cleveland, are all tightly constructed partisan districts. In the remaining seats, Republicans hold a significant 10-2 advantage. Retiring Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s (R-Rocky River) 16th District has effectively been collapsed.


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